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Annan Urges More Quake Aid to Pakistan

With Tens of Thousands of Lives at Risk, Annan Urges More Quake Aid to Pakistan

New York, Oct 19 2005 5:00PM

With 10,000 children in remote earthquake-stricken parts of Pakistan facing possible death within the next few weeks unless helicopters and other vital needs are supplied immediately, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for an "immediate and exceptional escalation" of the global relief effort.

"A second, massive wave of death will happen if we do not step up our efforts now," Mr. Annan said in a statement calling for 450,000 more winterized tents and temporary shelters and 2 million blankets and sleeping bags to deal with the quake, which has already killed 42,000, injured at least 67,000 others and left some 3 million homeless.

The logistics of the challenge with difficult terrain that "makes this one of the most challenging relief operations ever undertaken," coupled with fast approaching winter underscored the need for much higher UN revolving emergency fund of from $500 million to $1 billion, he told reporters in New York after reading the statement.

Earlier today, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned that tens of thousands of children were in peril due to worsening weather, injury and illness, and 10,000 could die of hunger, hypothermia and disease within the next few weeks unless immediate steps are taken to boost the number of those reached by relief.

Mr. Annan noted that hundreds of thousands of people had still not been reached and it was feared the current toll could be far higher. "The people and Government of Pakistan are faced with an extraordinary challenge and we need to make an extraordinary effort to support them," he said.

So far donors have made firm commitments for only $37 million, or 12 per cent, of the UN Flash Appeal of $312 million, he added. In comparison, the Indian Ocean tsunami Flash Appeal at the beginning of the year was 80 per cent funded within 10 days of the disaster.

Mr. Annan called on key donors and organizations, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), to mobilize the assets of its member States to meet the unprecedented logistical challenges.

"We need helicopters, trucks, heavy lifting equipment, shelter and health care," he said. "We need tarpaulins, ground sheets and stoves. We need water and sanitation equipment. We need food supplies.

"Next week, I will be attending the emergency donors' conference in Geneva convened by the United Nations. We expect results. I urge governments and other organizations to attend at the highest level. There are no excuses. If we are to show ourselves worthy of calling ourselves members of humankind, we must rise to this challenge. Our response will be no less than a measure of our humanity," he concluded.

Painting an equally grim picture, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman warned there as many as 120,000 children in the mountains still without access to aid.

"Temperatures have dropped and weather conditions are getting worse," she said in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she was visiting the agency's global supply warehouse. "Access to affected areas has been badly affected as roads have become clogged with mud and people fleeing the mountains with their injured. Tens of thousands of children are at risk."

Under current circumstances, even if tents and blankets were to arrive at each remote village immediately children would still be at serious risk due to a lack of medical assistance, de-hydration because of bad water, and malnutrition.

"There is a significant threat of disease, with outbreaks of diarrhoea already," she said. "Given the intermittent shut-downs of the air corridor because of bad weather, the consequences for sick and injured children could be grave."


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